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Cymbeline
Act 5, scene 3

Synopsis:

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Characters in the Play

Entire Play

Cymbeline, which takes place in ancient Britain, is filled with hidden identities, extraordinary schemes, and violent acts. Long ago, the…

Act 1, scene 1

At the court of King Cymbeline, the princess, Imogen, has secretly married a gentleman named Posthumus Leonatus. Imogen is the…

Act 1, scene 2

An encounter between Cloten and Posthumus, reported in 1.1, is here discussed by Cloten and two lords.

Act 1, scene 3

Posthumus’s servant, Pisanio, describes to the grieving Imogen the departure of Posthumus toward Rome.

Act 1, scene 4

Posthumus arrives in Rome, where an Italian gentleman, Iachimo, maneuvers him into placing a bet on Imogen’s chastity. Posthumus bets…

Act 1, scene 5

The queen obtains a box that she is told contains poison. (The audience is told that the box actually contains…

Act 1, scene 6

Iachimo arrives in Britain and begins his attempt to seduce Imogen by telling her that Posthumus is betraying her with…

Act 2, scene 1

Cloten and two lords discuss the arrival of Iachimo. The Second Lord, in soliloquy, expresses the hope that Imogen will…

Act 2, scene 2

As Imogen sleeps, the trunk that she is keeping for Iachimo opens, and Iachimo emerges. Before climbing back into it,…

Act 2, scene 3

Cloten serenades Imogen in an attempt to win her love. Imogen enrages Cloten by saying that he is not as…

Act 2, scene 4

Iachimo returns to Rome with his proofs of Imogen’s unfaithfulness: descriptions of her bedroom and of private marks on her…

Act 2, scene 5

Posthumus, in soliloquy, attacks women as the embodiment of all that is vicious.

Act 3, scene 1

Caius Lucius arrives as ambassador from Augustus Caesar, demanding that Cymbeline pay the tribute Britain owes to Rome. With the…

Act 3, scene 2

Pisanio receives two letters from Posthumus—one in which Pisanio is instructed to kill Imogen, and another written to Imogen, telling…

Act 3, scene 3

Three men enter as if from a cave, the two younger men protesting the limitations of their mountain lives. When…

Act 3, scene 4

On the journey to Milford Haven, Pisanio reveals to Imogen that he is supposed to kill her. She is so…

Act 3, scene 5

When Imogen’s absence from court is discovered, Cloten forces Pisanio to tell him where she is. Pisanio shows him the…

Act 3, scene 6

Imogen, disguised as a boy named Fidele, stumbles, exhausted and famished, into the cave of Belarius and the two young…

Act 3, scene 7

A Roman senator announces that the Roman army attacking Britain will be under the control of Caius Lucius and that…

Act 4, scene 1

Cloten, dressed in Posthumus’s garments, arrives at the spot where he plans to cut off Posthumus’s head and rape Imogen.

Act 4, scene 2

Imogen, not feeling well, takes the potion given her by Pisanio, thinking it is a restorative; the potion puts her…

Act 4, scene 3

Cymbeline finds himself alone in the face of the Roman attack, with Imogen and Cloten both missing and the queen…

Act 4, scene 4

The young princes persuade Belarius that the three of them should join with the Britons against Rome.

Act 5, scene 1

Posthumus, in Britain as part of the Roman army, repents Imogen’s (reported) murder and decides to seek death by joining…

Act 5, scene 2

In a series of battles, Posthumus (disguised as a peasant) defeats and disarms Iachimo; the Britons flee and Cymbeline is…

Act 5, scene 3

Posthumus, still seeking death and failing to find it as a poor British soldier, reverts to his earlier role as…

Act 5, scene 4

Posthumus, in chains, falls asleep and is visited by the ghosts of his dead family and by the god Jupiter,…

Act 5, scene 5

Cymbeline knights Belarius and the two young men in gratitude for their valor, and sends in search of the poor…

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Scene 3
Enter Posthumus and a Briton Lord.

LORD 
 Cam’st thou from where they made the stand?
POSTHUMUS  I did,
 Though you, it seems, come from the fliers.
LORD  Ay.
POSTHUMUS 
5 No blame be to you, sir, for all was lost,
 But that the heavens fought. The King himself

207
Cymbeline
ACT 5. SC. 3

 Of his wings destitute, the army broken,
 And but the backs of Britons seen, all flying
 Through a strait lane; the enemy full-hearted,
10 Lolling the tongue with slaught’ring, having work
 More plentiful than tools to do ’t, struck down
 Some mortally, some slightly touched, some falling
 Merely through fear, that the strait pass was dammed
 With dead men hurt behind and cowards living
15 To die with lengthened shame.
LORD  Where was this lane?
POSTHUMUS 
 Close by the battle, ditched, and walled with turf;
 Which gave advantage to an ancient soldier,
 An honest one, I warrant, who deserved
20 So long a breeding as his white beard came to,
 In doing this for ’s country. Athwart the lane,
 He with two striplings—lads more like to run
 The country base than to commit such slaughter,
 With faces fit for masks, or rather fairer
25 Than those for preservation cased or shame—
 Made good the passage, cried to those that fled
 “Our Britain’s harts die flying, not our men.
 To darkness fleet souls that fly backwards. Stand,
 Or we are Romans and will give you that
30 Like beasts which you shun beastly, and may save
 But to look back in frown. Stand, stand!” These three,
 Three thousand confident, in act as many—
 For three performers are the file when all
 The rest do nothing—with this word “Stand, stand,”
35 Accommodated by the place, more charming
 With their own nobleness, which could have turned
 A distaff to a lance, gilded pale looks,
 Part shame, part spirit renewed; that some, turned
 coward
40 But by example—O, a sin in war,
 Damned in the first beginners!—gan to look

209
Cymbeline
ACT 5. SC. 3

 The way that they did and to grin like lions
 Upon the pikes o’ th’ hunters. Then began
 A stop i’ th’ chaser, a retire; anon
45 A rout, confusion thick. Forthwith they fly
 Chickens the way which they stooped eagles; slaves
 The strides they victors made; and now our
 cowards,
 Like fragments in hard voyages, became
50 The life o’ th’ need. Having found the backdoor open
 Of the unguarded hearts, heavens, how they wound!
 Some slain before, some dying, some their friends
 O’erborne i’ th’ former wave, ten chased by one,
 Are now each one the slaughterman of twenty.
55 Those that would die or ere resist are grown
 The mortal bugs o’ th’ field.
LORD  This was strange chance:
 A narrow lane, an old man, and two boys.
POSTHUMUS 
 Nay, do not wonder at it. You are made
60 Rather to wonder at the things you hear
 Than to work any. Will you rhyme upon ’t
 And vent it for a mock’ry? Here is one:
 “Two boys, an old man twice a boy, a lane,
 Preserved the Britons, was the Romans’ bane.”
LORD 
65 Nay, be not angry, sir.
POSTHUMUS  ’Lack, to what end?
 Who dares not stand his foe, I’ll be his friend;
 For if he’ll do as he is made to do,
 I know he’ll quickly fly my friendship too.
70 You have put me into rhyme.
LORD  Farewell. You’re angry.
He exits.
POSTHUMUS 
 Still going? This is a lord! O noble misery,
 To be i’ th’ field and ask “What news?” of me!

211
Cymbeline
ACT 5. SC. 3

 Today how many would have given their honors
75 To have saved their carcasses, took heel to do ’t,
 And yet died too! I, in mine own woe charmed,
 Could not find Death where I did hear him groan,
 Nor feel him where he struck. Being an ugly monster,
 ’Tis strange he hides him in fresh cups, soft beds,
80 Sweet words, or hath more ministers than we
 That draw his knives i’ th’ war. Well, I will find him;
 For being now a favorer to the Briton,
 No more a Briton. (He removes his peasant
 costume.) 
I have resumed again
85 The part I came in. Fight I will no more,
 But yield me to the veriest hind that shall
 Once touch my shoulder. Great the slaughter is
 Here made by th’ Roman; great the answer be
 Britons must take. For me, my ransom’s death.
90 On either side I come to spend my breath,
 Which neither here I’ll keep nor bear again,
 But end it by some means for Imogen.

Enter two Briton Captains, and Soldiers.

FIRST CAPTAIN 
 Great Jupiter be praised, Lucius is taken!
 ’Tis thought the old man and his sons were angels.
SECOND CAPTAIN 
95 There was a fourth man in a silly habit
 That gave th’ affront with them.
FIRST CAPTAIN  So ’tis reported,
 But none of ’em can be found.—Stand. Who’s there?
POSTHUMUS A Roman,
100 Who had not now been drooping here if seconds
 Had answered him.
SECOND CAPTAIN  Lay hands on him. A dog,
 A leg of Rome shall not return to tell
 What crows have pecked them here. He brags his
105 service
 As if he were of note. Bring him to th’ King.

213
Cymbeline
ACT 5. SC. 4

Enter Cymbeline, Attendants, Belarius as Morgan,
Guiderius as Polydor, Arviragus as Cadwal, Pisanio,
Soldiers, and Roman captives.
 The Captains present
Posthumus to Cymbeline, who delivers him over to a
Jailer.

They exit.